BERLIN – Municipal officials continue to gather information regarding the federal COVID-19 funding the town has received and how it can be spent.
Mayor Zack Tyndall told council members he and town staff were learning all they could about the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation of $4,794,272.70.
“It’s almost $4.8 million so it’s not anything to spend on a whim,” Tyndall said. “We do need to have some good planning documents in place.”
He said he was working with Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood and the town’s finance office to gather information. They’re looking at COVID-19 impacts on town departments as well as reviewing requirements associated with the ARPA funds.
“The goal is to have that information at the department level gathered and vetted for the council and the public’s review by November or December of this year,” he said.
The town would then host a public listening session to hear from residents regarding potential uses for the funding.
“Anything people can think of we want to hear,” Tyndall said.
He encouraged the council members to also begin looking around their districts for potential projects.
Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols suggested putting the ARPA spending guidelines on the town’s website so residents could review them.
Councilman Jay Knerr asked if the money could be used to address an emergency. Tyndall said the funds were meant to be spent on impacts of COVID-19. He added the financial planning the town was doing in preparation of spending the ARPA funds would be useful going forward.
“The plans, the guides we’re trying to create, are going to be good for budgeting processes plus shedding light on the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had,” he said.
Tyndall said some of the losses incurred by the utility funds were COVID-related and could be addressed with funding.
Ivy Wells, economic and community development director, suggested officials also reach out to neighboring jurisdictions to see how they were using their ARPA funds.
“Sometimes it’s really good to work on partnerships that way,” she said.
Tyndall said elected officials would also have the benefit of learning more about ARPA from the Maryland Municipal League.
“We’re going to try and aim to allocate some of that relief money by the spring of next year,” he said.
The town has received half of its $4,794,272.70 allocation so far. Funding has to be allocated by December 2024.